No. 41




Where the European Green Deal Comes from and what the Deal is About*

10 June 2020


RiTo No. 41, 2020

  • Kaja Tael

    Ambassador at Large for Climate and Energy Policy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The article opens the context of the European Green Deal.

Why did that Commission proposal arrive on the tables of the EU heads of state and government only in December 2019, although the urgency of fighting against the climate change has been known to the public for years? Why does the Green Deal lack specific legislative proposals for different fields of life? When can we expect them and what will they be like?The Commission has changed its narrative. Besides classical nature conservation purposes, the Green Deal stands out as an integrated economic strategy. More effective use of resources, innovation and creation of new jobs, together with the need for reducing the use of fossil fuels, become a base for economic growth, among other things, through new breakthrough technologies. The EU wishes to present this narrative also in the global fight against climate change pursuant to the Paris Agreement, and has set the target of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. The role of the global leader has to be shown at the UN Climate Conferences (the next conference is called COP26 and will probably be held in autumn 2021), which spurs the ambitious member states to set new specific targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases already by 2030. Why isn’t the EU united in this aim? What are the prospects of achieving this target? The Commission has proposed to launch a Just Transition Mechanism that would alleviate the inevitable hardships connected with the transition for countries relying on fossil fuels the most through additional funds from the EU budget, and also with the help of favourable loans and targeted investments. Are these measures sufficient? The greatest challenge for Estonia is the oil shale based industrial complex and its concentration in Ida-Virumaa in north-east Estonia. Political decisions to reduce the use of oil shale or to redirect it into less polluting sectors should go hand in hand with new economic management plans. Today we have an excellent possibility to do it with the support of the EU. Besides that, Estonia can make use of its valuable experience from the previous decisive development period, from the Tiger Leap programme and the digital revolution. Building up of the economy of Estonia in the 1990s was complicated, as is the restoration of the economy of the EU that has been ravaged by the coronavirus. However, when exiting from the economic crisis, it would be wise to keep in mind that if the recovery does not take into account the needs of the green transition, it is not a real recovery.

* I use the term “Green Deal” to denote “European Green Deal for the European Union (EU) and its citizenns” (European Commission 2019a)